Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Examining Florida's tough sentencing laws

Today's Daytona Beach News-Journal has this pair of interesting pieces exploring

Florida's tough sentencing laws:

Here is an excerpt from the first of these pieces:

By the end of the year, Florida's prison population could top 100,000. The cost of keeping those prisoners behind bars runs close to $20,000 per inmate, per year, and the total correctional budget is more than $2.5 billion. Despite a prison-building spree in the 1990s, Florida's state correctional institutions are near capacity, and the state will need an estimated two new prisons a year to keep up.

When state coffers are full, prison budgets get little scrutiny. But lawmakers are staring down a $2 billion hole in next year's budget. And some of them are coming to the realization that Florida's lock 'em up philosophy has gone too far, that it's time to rethink some of the overbearing sentencing laws that cost the state so much. The alternative -- slashing drug treatment and education for inmates and reducing programs that help people turn away from crime -- is all but guaranteed to boomerang on the state, producing an even greater number of people locked hopelessly behind bars and an even tougher strain on taxpayers.

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